The 51 Best Customer Service Tips For Entrepreneurs

| By Mike Michalowicz (Google+)


Customer Service Tips

Few things are truly more important to entrepreneurs and small business owners than getting and keeping customers. After all, you’re not even in business unless you have products or services to sell and paying customers to buy them. So for many of us, customer service is no small thing. But we sometimes minimize its importance by dealing with our customers as if we deserve their business.

Newsflash. The days of big business-little customer are long gone. There are far too many competitors in the market for small business owners to handle customers carelessly. Not only that, but digital reputation management is a huge responsibility for entrepreneurs. It’s time to get your best customer service mojo flowing. Poor feedback from even a handful of dissatisfied customers will cost you dozens and even hundreds of would-be customers in the long run.

Here are 51 valuable customer service tips for entrepreneurs that will serve your customers extraordinarily well. Included in this list is everything from attitude to body language to thank you cards . All of it matters.

  1. Sit up straight and smile. When you are face to face with a customer, good posture and a sincere smile will change your disposition and that’s change customers can feel.
  2. Use active listening. One of the best experiences customers can have is to know they are understood. Listen to your customers. Let them know you have heard them by rephrasing and communicating what they have told you. This makes sure you and the customer are on the same page and lets customers know they’ve been heard. You both win!
  3. Let them rest assured. Customers want to feel confident in your ability to guide them through the fray. Let them know that you have their best interest in mind. Be present, communicate often and always follow through.
  4. Dump the script. The thing about scripts is that they can be memorized. You know the essence of what it is you need to say. Now you need to customize it so that it addresses the needs and desires of your customer. The only way to do that is to listen and respond to the conversation at hand. Get off the script. Get engaged.
  5. Use a pleasant tone. Sound like you love it! You should sound like you enjoy what you do and like you are ready to do business. Keep your tone energetic, crisp and clear. Speak at a moderate speed – not too fast and not too slow. Be interested.
  6. Please and thank you. Good manners will take you far in small business. There’s nothing wrong with being effective and a pleasure. Be a little ball of sunshine to your customers and let them know by the way you handle them that you value them. Thank them for calling. Be grateful for the opportunity to interact with your customers.
  7. No waiting. Never leave your customer on hold for more than 30 seconds. If the interruption is that important, take down your customer’s phone number and get right back to them as soon as you are done putting out whatever fire caused you to eject from the conversation in the first place.
  8. Follow up. Whenever handling customer complaints, always follow up after the complaint has been resolved. Follow through on all commitments.
  9. Put your best foot forward. Customer service is not a job to be relegated to whomever you can get in to fill the post. Customer service is key in building your business. So you should have your BEST people manning the phones. Satisfied customers are repeat customers. Dissatisfied customers tweet.
  10. Go the extra mile. Always under promise and over deliver. It’s much better to exceed customer expectations than to disappoint a customer.
  11. Train your team. Any member of your team who performs any client-facing activity – whether it’s delivering sales presentations or installing HVAC systems – should be trained in how to listen to, talk to and relate to your customer.
  12. Empower your team.  Now that they have the knowledge, give them the authority to act on it. Let them make the decisions and not have to seek approval from a superior.
  13. Remember names. All people want to feel like they matter. The quickest route to making someone feel valued is to remember their name.
  14. Write a note. Few actually do this anymore, but every now and then send a handwritten thank you card to your client. This simple little gracious act will make you a customer service star!
  15. Make a good first impression. Introduce yourself right away when you’re talking to a client. Letting them know who you are puts them at ease and gives them a sense of confidence in you. And don’t forget tip #13, remember and repeat back their name.
  16. Phone first. No news is still news. Pick up the phone and call your customer proactively. They need to hear your voice. Email is necessary. Email is good. But don’t hide in your inbox.
  17. Be human. Humans are not all-knowing. It’s not expected. So when you don’t know something, admit you don’t know. Go to work finding out for your customer and they will appreciate you for it.
  18. Minimize robots and recordings. Customers who get the opportunity to engage with a real person on their first call are twice as likely to do business with you. Even if they use an automated system, they want a trap door so that they can get easy access to an agent if need be. Access includes multiple ways of reaching you – email, phone, social media, web chats. Provide them that access.
  19. Sow where you reap. Whenever possible and appropriate, buy from your customers. It facilitates trust.
  20. Get feedback often. Customer feedback is invaluable. Whenever you talk to your customer, be sure to ask them what you can do to make their experience more enjoyable. Customer feedback has been known to change the way companies do business.
  21. Be that company. Make each experience with your customer a memorable one. That keeps ‘em comin’ back for more.
  22. Humble yourself. Yes you are the guru. Yes you are the guide. But you can also be wrong and in those cases be quick to apologize. Then fix it. It’s absolutely necessary. Make amends by offering discounts on products and services or throwing in a little something extra.
  23. Be present. Focus. Nothing’s worse than trying to hold a conversation with someone who is texting, multi-tasking, talking to other people in the room or just plain not paying attention. Don’t even think about grabbing your cell phone while you’re engaging with a client.
  24. Solve their problems. It’s tempting to be more concerned with the products you’re peddling than the challenges your customers are facing. Listen to them so that you can provide solutions to their problems. Once you know and understand the problem, fix it for them. Therein lies your value.
  25. Create a flow of communication. Every member of your organization needs to understand the flow of information – from your C suite managers to your newest members of the talent pool. When customer suggestions come in, there should be a system in place to get those suggestions to the people who can evaluate suggestions and make changes if necessary.
  26. Be quick or be dead. Respond quickly to customer issues. . . or lose the customer. It’s that simple. That goes for delivering service as well. Respond quickly. Deliver the product or service as quickly as you can.
  27. Be mindful of your attitude. Is the glass half empty or half full? Is customer service an opportunity to serve or a necessary evil? Whatever your perspective your customer will sense your attitude. Service is an opportunity to engage your customer and create positive experiences.
  28. Answer when asked. It’s usually not necessary to fix every problem a customer has. When they want your advice, they will ask for it. Otherwise, just let them vent.
  29. Show respect. Don’t assume it is okay to address your customer by his/her first name. It’s better to ask first how your customer prefers to be addressed.
  30. Serve the customer. Don’t be tempted to process your customer as part of the system. Serve your customer, not your business system.
  31. Service is king. Stay in constant contact with your customer. The days of keeping customers at arm’s length are long gone. Get connected and stay connected. And like I said already “no news is still news.”
  32. Give them their props. If you find out a customer has achieved personal or professional success in some area, celebrate him or her. Send a handwritten note of congratulations. They will appreciate you for it, since even their closest friends didn’t likely send them a handwritten note.
  33. Take the high road. Angry emails happen. When they do, respond with grace and diplomacy and a touch of humility.
  34. Remember the other 93%. It is said that communication is only 7% verbal. The rest is tone of voice and body language. When you’re communicating digitally, you have to remember that your tone won’t be captured with one or two word answers. Take some time to flesh out a response that does a better job of creating a positive customer experience. When you meet in person, watch your tone and body language and pay attention to your customer’s tone and body language as well.
  35. Recap. When settling customer disputes and issues, be sure that you tell your customer what they can expect from you as the next course of action. Do what you say you will do and follow up with your customer.
  36. Qualify yourself. There’s nothing wrong with tooting your own horn as long as the tune you play appeals to your customer. So when providing a review of your own services, instead of saying, “I’m the best in town,” instead tell prospective customers why your current customers choose to work with you.
  37. Make cheerleaders of your customers. Negative customer experiences are the perfect opportunity to turn gripes into raves. Go above and beyond the call of duty to remedy bad customer experiences. Turn your accusers into advocates.
  38. Customize. Whenever you receive an email inquiry from a prospect, answer immediately, addressing them by name. Personalize your exchange to build good will and be sure to include your direct number and your email address in your signature.
  39. Take notes for future reference. Customers often say a lot about themselves over the course of a conversation. Take notes. This will help you to shape their service to meet and exceed their expectations.
  40. Be confident. When it comes to your products and services you and your team are the authorities. Customers buy from who they believe in. So make sure that your team is trained in how to confidently and positively answer questions about your products and services.
  41. Relax. That’s the only way to truly make a connection with your customer. Tension and anxiety disrupt the natural flow of interpersonal vibes. When you are relaxed, you can listen more attentively and provide good solutions for your customer.
  42. Double up. Follow up on email exchanges with a phone call. It lets the customer know you are concerned and that they are not getting lost in the digital shuffle.
  43. Be the answer. Don’t just solve problems one by one, be the answer your customer is looking for. Position yourself as a one stop shop even if you’re not. You would much rather they come to you first with the expectation that you can either get the job done or tell them how to get it done than to place limitations on your capacity.
  44. Make your customer feel important. Value proposition, market positioning and other business jargon aside, the fastest way to anyone’s heart is to make them feel important. Your customer’s no different. Make them feel important and you will put yourself leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors.
  45. Empathy. Try to understand your customers. Know what they know. Feel what they feel. Empathy is the way to truly engage and satisfy your customer.
  46. Be a real person. It’s uncomfortable dealing with someone who is all business all the time. Show your customer that you are multi-dimensional. Be business, but be laid back too. Be an entrepreneur and be a parent. The complexity of the various elements of your persona make you more likable and relatable.
  47. Make it all or nothing. Can you deliver a 100% guarantee with your product or service? Do that. Put your money where your mouth is.
  48. Let them have their way. Always allow your customers to buy in the way that’s most comfortable to them. You may prefer that all of the sales are done online. But if that’s not what your customers want they may go elsewhere. Serve the customer.
  49. Formalize your system. There are books on the market that tell instruct you on how to say difficult things and how to respond to negative situations. You should have such a script in your business. Write down a few standardized responses for your team to memorize. This way you guard against a bad situation becoming worse by having a team member misspeak with a customer.
  50. Be prompt. Ship the same day the order is received whenever possible.
  51. Make it simple. Make it easy for customers to understand, relate to and purchase your product. Simplify your system, but not your product. You want to maintain the distinction of being an authority while making yourself and your product accessible.

Knowing how to provide your customers with stellar service is the one thing you can use to set you apart from the competition. And it’s not always an easy task to perform. Think of your customers as fellow business owners, service providers, retailers, moms and dads then work from there. The key to good customer service is understanding that first and foremost it’s a human interaction. Govern your behavior with that insight and half the battle is already won.


Posted in Customer Service, Entrepreneur Strategies,

18 Responses to “The 51 Best Customer Service Tips For Entrepreneurs”

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  6. Victor says:

    Mike, Great Ideas! This is an extensive list of things a company can do.

    I do think some could be condensed into higher level concepts.

    This article mentions most of these in a condensed format.

    http://matchist.com/blog/5-tips-for-killer-startup-customer-service/

  7. [...] If you want to grow your business as an entrepreneur, customer service is the end-all be-all. Here are the 51 best customer service tips for entrepreneurs.  [...]

  8. [...] The 51 Best Customer Service Tips for Entrepreneurs The New Rules of Customer Engagement Top Tips for Customer Retention Customer Satisfaction and Promotion = Door Dealership Success [...]

  9. Brendan Shea says:

    Good observations, Mike!

  10. Katie says:

    Mike,
    These are some great suggestions, in a quick-read format! Thanks for sharing them!

  11. Shep Hyken says:

    Any company that can’t find at least a dozen ideas in this article doesn’t care about their customer service. Sure, some are common sense. But they are worth thinking about, bringing up in the next meeting and having a discussion about how to use them. My suggestion to anyone reading this great article is to choose the ideas you like, then focus on just one at a time. Maybe one a week or one a month. Sometimes the best ideas are simple – even common sense – but they aren’t always so common!

  12. Halima Hassan says:

    This great am actually putting together a ‘back to basic’ training in customer service this is very useful. Thanks

  13. [...] It's time to get your best customer service mojo flowing. Poor feedback from even a handful of dissatisfied customers will cost you dozens and even hundreds of would-be customers in the long run. Here are 51 valuable …  [...]

  14. [...] If you want to grow your business as an entrepreneur, customer service is the end-all be-all. Here are the 51 best customer service tips for entrepreneurs.  [...]

  15. Maddy says:

    Very well written, thanks!

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